10 Rules To Stay Healthy While Traveling
Travel. For most, it conjures up pictures of white beaches, blue oscillating waves, and total excitement. For me, while I have the same excitement you might have, it's also paired with a sense of sheer terror. Flying is difficult with my blood pressure issues. Germs while traveling can easily make me sick and shifts from time zones to eating schedule can throw my body totally out of wack. Its taken a long time, but I've finally figured out what I need to do to stay healthy and in balance while I travel. If you’re a great traveler already, you won’t need these tips. But, if you suffer from autoimmune or other health challenges, I hope these are helpful. Here are the 10 rules I follow to stay feeling great.
10 Rules to Stay Healthy While Traveling
One: Prepare and Prepare Again.
I cannot stress this enough. Preparing before taking a trip is the difference between paralyzing anxiety and comfort for me. Prepare for what could happen-- flight delays, lost luggage, sudden temperature changes and more. My top five "emergency" items I always take are:
1. Travel Fan: A small USB fan for if my temperature swings, a hotel room is too warm, or I just need to cool off. One time a plane had no air conditioning and I ended up walking from seat to seat cooling people off with the fan so it's great to make friends too!
2. A Big Scarf: On the flip side, if I'm too cold I always travel with a big scarf I use as a blanket or a pillow. Currently loving this one.
3. A Huge Water Bottle: To refill on my trip and not spend money on buying them again and again. I always ask the stewardesses to fill this up when they come around asking if anyone wants water. I love my glass one which is more inexpensive than a Swell and dishwasher safe.
4. Extra Medication: For all that ails me. Your typical Tylenol, Aleve, and Benadryl along with supplements like echinacea and Vitamin C for immunity if I fly next to someone that's sick.
5. Your Favorite Scent: Scent is such a powerful tool for self care. It can bring feelings of calm, help if you’re homesick, or provide energy when you’re lagging. I like to pack a few essential oils like Lavender, Frankincense, and Tangerine that I know can help with relaxation for sleeping in new places, immunity, or even migraine relief.
I feel like this is the opposite advice of anything a women's magazine ever told me but I find it's helpful for my peace of mind. I'm not saying to pack a 50 lb. bag but pack more than you think you'll need. Comfortable outfits if you're not feeling well and extra snacks you know you can digest okay and anything else you find comforting. I usually bring a reusable bag as well so I can fill it in the event I need to pick things up at my new destination to help me feel great in my new environment.
Three: Consider an Airbnb.
I love a hotel as much as the next person but am majorly team Airbnb if you have health issues. The ability to cook for yourself when traveling has been lifechanging for me. I don't have to deviate from my diet and am usually in a less touristy neighborhood which means it's easier to find doctors, grocery stores, etc. Plus, you get local recommendations and it's much less expensive so you save money too!
Four: Build in Downtime.
As a Type A person, it's so easy for me to want to plan every single second of a trip. I'm known for making insane itineraries and running from the moment I get up till when I go to sleep. But if you have autoimmune, or even if you're just adjusting to a new environment without your usual schedule, your body needs time to reset. Make sure you're building in rest time to relax and be gentle with your body. I've found that a cup of Vata tea which is grounding after a flight, a chamomile bath, and reading a book is sometimes all I need to reset.
Yes, you may think that everyone you're traveling with can read your mind but I have devastating news to tell you: they can't. They'll try but you need to help them get there. Listen to your body and communicate your needs. Not up for dinner? Don't push yourself, just explain. Feeling a little dizzy? Ask for a break from touring and find a café to sit down in. This can be harder on a work trip but building in those breaks is helpful if you're uncomfortable communicating so you can reset. With that said, don’t let your symptoms be an excuse for avoiding adventure. You know your body. You know when can push a little more— you might just surprise yourself.
Six: Ask for Accommodations.
I used to hate doing this but now I can't imagine traveling without it. If you have a condition that makes traveling difficult, there are all these amazing accommodations out there for you...seriously! Most airlines have a number you can call to ask for anything special you need on your flight (which for me is an aisle seat). Delta is the best with this but Alaska Airlines has been good too. Hotels and Airbnbs will usually be accommodating of late check outs if you need a little longer to get out the door and restaurants too can make changes based on dietary restrictions. It never hurts to ask!
Seven: Do Some Research.
It’s said that the act of planning for a trip can sometimes have greater mental benefits than taking the trip itself. Why? Planning for a trip puts you in a vacation mindset where relaxation, a sense of adventure, and a positive attitude tend to live. By researching where you’re headed, any healthy workouts or restaurants, beautiful spots to catch the sunset, or activities that align with your passions, you will feel more prepared and less anxious about the unknowns of travel. Not to mention, you’ll put your body in a more relaxed state just from the planning which always benefits feeling healthy while traveling.
Not all the time. Not because it's "bad". But sometimes, on vacation, you just want to explore and don't want to listen to your body. I feel this way often. Eat the crazy big pastry knowing it has gluten and dairy and sugar. Stay up extra late knowing you might feel a little ill in the morning. Go on that hike knowing it might take you a bit longer than everyone else to recover.
I know this is the exact opposite advice most wellness bloggers give but life is suffocating if you're so restricted and vacation is about exploring and getting out of your comfort zone. So evaluate the risk and cheat occasionally. It's fun.
Nine: Listen to Your Body
Your body tells you what it needs at all hours, every single day. Make plans that have refund policies. Be okay with cancelling a tour of London if necessary in favor of bad British TV and some tea time. And if you’re feeling great? I always like to create a list of “potential plans”— activities I can do on vacation if I’m feeling strong and ready for anything. By listening to your body and not beating yourself up, you’ll actually design a trip where you can enjoy everything and have memories where you feel good which are the best kind.
Ten: Stick to the 80/20 Rule
Don’t drive yourself crazy sticking to your routine 100% of the time you’re traveling. With that said, do try to stick to it about 80% of the time. Whatever you define as “routine” is exactly what I mean— whatever makes you feel grounded and healthy is what you should try and maintain 80% of the time while traveling and the other 20% you can change up. For me, I try to ensure I get 10,000 steps a day no matter how that’s achieved, 10 minutes of meditation, and 64 ounces of water a day. That’s really all I need to make me feel grounded so find your 80/20 and stick to it for a vacation you can feel great about.
Do you have any rules you swear by for travel? Post them in the comments below!